Long considered a classic of European film noir, this existential gangster drama from French director Jean-Pierre Melville was released in the United States only in a severely truncated, re-edited, and overdubbed version entitled The Godson. Thirty years after its initial public airing, Le Samourai (1967) finally saw a limited American release in its intended form. Alain Delon stars as Jef Costello, a professional Parisian assassin-for-hire who, by nature of his work's solitary demands, has no friends. Although he is loved by Jane Lagrange (Natalie Delon, the star's real-life wife), Costello knows that Jane already has a lover. After he successfully wipes out a nightclub owner at the behest of his boss, Costello discovers that he was seen by the club's pianist, Valerie (Cathy Rosier). Although he survives a police lineup thanks to a lie offered up by the fearless Valerie, Costello's alibi disintegrates rapidly and his shadowy employer takes out a contract on him. As he seeks revenge on his betrayer, Costello must also stay one step ahead of a wily, determined superintendent (Francois Perier). Melville's film influenced several other filmmakers and projects, most notably director John Woo's The Killer (1989).
by Karl Williams synopsis